It is no surprise that the Gucci brand is one of the world’s most replicated luxury designer brands. With a vast collection of handbags featuring different famous styles and design cues, Gucci is one of the leading brands in the luxury fashion industry alongside Louis Vuitton, Hermes, and Chanel.
Gucci handbags are distinguishable from the crowd because of their premium materials, high-quality craftsmanship, timeless designs, and classic Gucci embellishments such as horse-bit closures, bamboo handles, as well as the GG monogram canvas.
However, it is essential to get familiar with the real deal and have the ability to recognize replicas when you’re trying to buy a pre-owned Gucci handbag, due to the presence of fakes in the market. The guide below will provide you with red flags and tips to help you carry out a DIY authenticity check on a pre-loved Gucci bag in five steps.
Step 1: Examine the Serial Number Tag
- Look around the interior zipped pocket inside the handbag, where you should find a rectangular leather tag (having sharp right angles) on the opposite side of the front closure of the bag.
- Take special note of the two sides of the rectangular tag: there should be three rows of heat-stamped text on the front, and the serial number should be on the rear.
- Confirm that the top line on the front of the tag has a circle with the ® trademark.
- The name ‘GUCCI’ should be written directly under in uppercase signature Gucci font. Closely examine the font: the letter ‘G’ should be well rounded, as well as the two-letter ‘C’s, closely resembling incomplete circles.
- The words ‘made in Italy’ should be written directly under this, all in lowercase letters.
- Confirm that the font is genuine and the full heat stamp is aligned in the center.
- Check the font used on the tag of your bag and compare it with the one in the image below to be sure that the fonts are similar.
The three lines on the tag should align to the center, and the heat stamp should read clearly and accurately. An example of the rear side of an original serial number tag is provided on the right. Note that the font used for the Gucci number on the other side of the serial number tags should feature serifs (feet) and have similarities with a typewriter-style.
There should be around 10 to 13 numbers on the bottom of a new, rectangular serial number tag, arranged in two lines. The first line indicates the handbag style, while the second line indicates batch/supplier code. There will never be letters on this code and the font has serifs (feet) on the digits.
However, it is important to note that this code is never unique to a specific bag – the same code will be issued to other bags like yours that are from the same supplier and series. Therefore two original Gucci handbags can have a similar serial number sequence.
Note also that old Gucci bags usually have one row with less than 10-13 digits, attached to more rounded leather tags.
What if my bag has no rectangular tag?
Gucci tag styles, branding, and inclusion of a number have seen significant changes over the years:
- The tags on old Gucci bags made before the 1960s came with model numbers.
- Some of the bags made around the 1960s came with model numbers while others did not.
- Gucci bags made around the 1970s didn’t come with serial numbers or model numbers and only featured the Gucci script written in cursive.
- Gucci released a Gucci Accessory Collection between the late 1970s and early 1980s and these had gold printed serial numbers, which can now often be found fading or partially peeled.
- Gucci bags were made during the late 1990s and after mainly featuring the rectangular leather serial number tag.
There are also differences in the style and shape of the tags in the more vintage Gucci bags. For a supposedly newer model bag that doesn’t come with a tag, then there is a very high chance that it is a replica.
Furthermore, beginning from 2016/2017 and till 2021, Gucci started to complement the serial number tag with QR codes, which can be found on the interior of the bag on a black fabric tag, to discourage the production of counterfeits. The bags can be authenticated by scanning these QR codes with smartphones.
Step 2: Examine the Fabric and Craftsmanship
Being a high-end luxury brand, Gucci only uses high-quality materials and thorough craftsmanship in making their handbags. This is why even very old Gucci handbags that were made in the 80s and the 90s can be found in incredible, like-new condition.
If you’re in the market to buy a pre-loved Gucci bag, you should be able to recognize a quality bag from first sight and touch. If it is possible to check out the bag physically, feel the fabric used in making it.
Whether it is the classic Gucci GG Monogram canvas, suede or calf leather, Guccisima ‘the most Gucci leather’, or the exotic rare crocodile skins, you will feel the luxurious quality when you touch Gucci’s materials. Most replicas will be made of fake leather that will have an unnatural feel, look, and even smell because they are made with machines and finished with inferior chemicals.
The hardware and craftsmanship will showcase the quality. Look out for the serial number tag – its edges are rounded and it is different from the standard number codes. The tag is odd on the front side too: observe the gold print and the absence of the trademark ® that most modern Gucci bags have.
Step 3: Check the Stitching
Original Gucci handbags have detailed stitching, and in some cases, the threads have a similar color to the bag itself. If you notice any breaks or that the stitches are uneven, or the threading or fraying have gaps, then it’s very likely the bag is a fake.
Step 4: Feel the Hardware
Different Gucci handbag styles have different hardware, especially since Gucci focuses heavily on the design of the hardware, which has seen significant changes over the years (the Gucci logo has also recently been changed to Marmont GG overlapping style, in place of the interlocking Gs).
Some of the most famous hardware used on Gucci handbags are the bamboo handles and bamboo closure, the horse bit closure, and the piston lock featured on Jackie O Hobo bags.
The Gucci hardware types are obviously different from one another, however, there is one common attribute they all have: quality. Check out the hardware on an original Gucci handbag and notice the weighty and premium feel of the metal. It is never cheap, light, prone to scratches, or coated in plastic.
Originally made when metal and plastic were scarce as a result of World War Two, Gucci’s bamboo is carefully handcrafted over an open fire, after which it is lacquered to give it a quality bronze finish. It also feels heavy and quality to hold.
Note: Ensure that you check the zippers closely! Forgers often commit errors in this hardware area. Original Gucci zippers are made of solid metal and have the Gucci engraving branded on them. The zipper is likely to be a fake if it feels light or cheap or is coated in plastic. Original Gucci zippers are made to endure the test of time.
Step 5: Search for an Authenticity Card
When you’re in the market for a pre-owned Gucci bag, there’s a chance you discover something known as a ‘controllato’ card. It has a grey color, features ten digits and the Gucci font logo, and has the word ‘controllato’ written on it in lowercase font.
All-new original Gucci bags are issued this card but do not be deceived. If entire bags can be replicated by forgers, then the card can also be replicated easily. The mere availability of this card is not to be considered proof that the bag is original.
On the other hand, it is nothing to be worried about if your pre-owned Gucci bag does not come with a ‘controllato’ card. Most of them get lost because they are not issued to a specific bag but are given with every new Gucci bag, and a bag that doesn’t have one can definitely be authentic.
As a matter of fact, most trusted luxury resale stores have their own type of authenticity card that they issue as proof that the bag is genuine. These same resale stores will often offer a money-back guarantee for authenticity, and the best resale stores will offer a lifetime guarantee of authenticity – not just one that becomes invalid after the usual 30 day return period.
At first, it may seem difficult to authenticate Gucci handbags because of the numerous iconic designs and innovations that Gucci has made over the years. However, if you are familiar with the basics of the common qualities that all Gucci handbags have, you are on the right track to recognizing the replicas out there.